Never too early to look ahead to Class of 2012
College pitchers, high school hitters look to be strengths of Draft
Now that the 2011 First-Year Player Draft is over and done with, it's time to look ahead to the Class of 2012.
It might seem too far in the future, but rest assured that every team's scouting staffs will begin working on evaluating these players in short order. Summer leagues and showcase events give scouts ideal opportunities to start seeing next year's potential draftees in competitive settings.
Things will change before next June. There is a great deal of talent that will be Draft-eligible, and as of right now, it looks like high-end college pitchers and high school position players could be strengths. Stanford's Mark Appel, who's been in the Cardinal's rotation since he arrived on campus, could be the best of that college crop and might be in line to be the No. 1 overall pick. The big right-hander was taken in the 15th round of the 2009 Draft by the Detroit Tigers, but didn't sign. Texas outfielder Nick Williams heads the list of those elite high school bats who will be watched very closely.
Some players will emerge from the shadows and jump to the foreground this summer and next spring. But for the time being, here are some high school and college players to know about for next year.
Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit HS, Fla.: McCullers has an electric arm. The son of the former big leaguer of the same name, he has the chance to be much better than his dad, with a fastball that can touch the upper 90s and signs of a plus slider.
Nick Williams, OF, Galveston Ball HS, Texas: He's got a very advanced idea at the plate, a left-handed hitter with the chance to be a run producer with power. He's athletic and should profile very well as a corner outfielder.
Trey Williams, 3B, Valencia HS, Calif.: The son of former first-round pick Eddie Williams is a strong right-handed hitter with legitimate power potential.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Calif.: Giolito is big and strong and can crank his fastball into the mid-90s with a low-effort delivery.
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS, Fla.: Russell is very strong and athletic. He's an excellent right-handed hitter who makes consistent, hard contact with power. He's got a plus arm as well.
Others of note: Anthony Alford, OF, Petal HS, Miss.; Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, P.R.; Rio Ruiz, 3B/RHP, Bishop Amat HS, Calif.; Kayden Porter, RHP, Spanish Fork HS, Utah; Cody Poteet, INF, Northwest Cabarrus HS, N.C.; Keon Barnum, 1B/OF, King HS, Fla.; Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS, La.; David Thompson, 3B, Westminster Christian HS, Fla.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford: Some believe that Appel, a power pitcher who's been at the front of Stanford's rotation for two years, could be the No. 1 overall pick.
Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State: Part of an impressive crop of 2012 Draft talent at ASU, Marrero is a legitimate shortstop with great defensive actions and a playable bat for the next level.
Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M: Wacha stepped up with John Stilson on the shelf to pitch A&M to a Super Regional. He'll be the staff ace in 2012.
Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona State: He and Brady Rogers may form the best college rotation in the game in 2012, ASU's version of Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.
Branden Kline, RHP, Virginia: Virginia's closer, Kline had 17 saves heading into the Super Regional. He's athletic and has a live arm, the kind of college closer who could be very quick to the big leagues.
Others of note: Kenny Diekroeger, SS, Stanford; Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State; DJ Baxendale, RHP, Arkansas; Brian Johnson, LHP/1B, Florida; Austin Maddox, 3B, Florida; Mike Zunino, C, Florida.